November 3, 2013 Subject:
John Wayne always provided a good action show, even this film which was early in his career.
April 25, 2011 Subject:
A "Canadian Western"
This is a fairly good entry in the John Wayne- Lone Star series of low-budget westerns made in the 1930s. Between 1930, when Wayne had his first big break with the lead in the excellent Raoul Walsh western "The Big Trail, and 1939, when he had his second, and star-making break, in John Ford's "Stagecoach," he made a zillion of these lower-grade films. This is not to say they were all bad. They lacked the polished scripts of the bigger-budgeted films, but they had great action, and some good character actors. This one has the father and son team of Noah Beery and Noah Beery, Jr. Beery senior, brother of Wallace, was one of the screen's great bad guys. He had a personality reminiscent of Bluto in the Popeye cartoons. His son usually played good guys, and acted way into the TV era- such as in James Garner's "The Rockford Files."
This film has some outstanding, beautiful photograpy by master cameraman Archie Stout. He would later be the cameraman on "Beau Geste," "Fort Apache," and a number of John Ford- John Wayne films. He really makes California look like Canada in this one.
It's interesting seeing Wayne in a western set in Canada. He gets involved with crooked French trappers, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. He even becomes a deputized Mountie at one point. It is Hollywood Canada, and I'm sure Canadians would be quite aware of that. Wayne must spend more time in the water in this than in just about any other of his films. He jumps off a train bridge into a river, jumps off a cliff- two times- into another river, and saves a Mountie from going over a waterfall. Wayne and stuntmen Yakima Canutt and Eddie Parker really paid their dues on this one. And Wayne paid his dues with all these low-budget westerns, before he hit the big time with "Stagecoach." It must have seemed to him to take forever getting there.